MCC Blog September 9, 2019
|The Season of Creation is an annual celebration of prayer and action to protect creation. Since its inception in 1989, Christians around the world (147 denominations and ecumenical councils) have observed this season with events on six continents ranging from prayer services to litter clean-ups to advocacy actions. The theme of this year’s celebration is “The Web of Life.” The season began on September 1, the Day of Prayer for Creation, and concludes on October 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology. For more information, including worship and program resources, go to https://seasonofcreation.org/. To download a free monthly bulletin insert that lists weekly ways to #CareForCreation, tips for each week of the year to make caring for creation a part of individuals’ and congregations’ everyday lives, go to http://www.creationjustice.org/care-for-creation.html. For sample sermon, litany of confession, and responsive reading, click here.|
This week, we have invited our colleague John Hennessy, Director of the Maine Episcopal Network for Justice and co-chair of the Maine Council of Churches Public Policy Committee, to offer a “guest blog” in the form of a letter he has drafted to Senator Susan Collins in support of the National Origin-Based Anti-discrimination for Nonimmigrants Act (NO BAN Act). We are assisting John in collecting sign-ons from faith leaders across the state. Read his letter below. Clergy and faith leaders can use this link to sign on.
We would like to thank John for helping all of us speak up in support of ending the harmful refugee, Muslim, and asylum bans put in place by this administration and establishing vital|
protections against future discriminatory bans.
Dear Senator Collins, |
As religious leaders and faith-based organizations across faith traditions in Maine, we write to express our strong support for the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act (NO BAN Act), led by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Representative Judy Chu (D-CA). The NO BAN Act would end the harmful refugee, Muslim, and asylum bans put in place by this administration and establish vital protections against future discriminatory bans.
We are called by our sacred texts and faith principles to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner. Our congregations, synagogues, and mosques have historically played key roles in assisting refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants, and other newcomers with housing, language, jobs, and social supports necessary to integrate and thrive. Yet, over the last two years, the administration has undertaken a series of attacks against our refugee, asylum seeking, and Muslim neighbors. Together, the Muslim ban on travel from several Muslim-majority countries, asylum ban that wrongfully and illegally blocks people who cross between ports of entry from applying for asylum, and refugee ban that seeks to dismantle the resettlement program deny vulnerable families their fundamental right to safety, condemn them to return to unfathomable danger, and prolong family separation. To restrict thousands of people based on discrimination forsakes our nation’s ideals of compassion, hospitality, and welcome.
We cannot condone excluding people based on their nationality or religious background, but instead must work toward inclusivity and justice for all. Religious faith or national origin should never be an obstacle to whether we extend a hand of welcome to the refugee or the immigrant. To close the door to those who are Muslim or of other faiths, is not a faithful expression of the principle that all are created equal. This manner of exclusion weakens what has made our country strong – a commitment to stand with the vulnerable, the oppressed, the suffering, regardless of their religious faith or where they come from.
Since the inception of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) in 1980, the U.S. has been an international model providing refugees protection through our historically bipartisan public-private resettlement program. Refugee resettlement is an option for those who cannot return to their home country due to ongoing violence or for reasons of personal safety, and who cannot stay in the country into which they have fled. As a pillar of our national foreign policy, our nation’s resettlement program represents a standard of excellence that other countries around the world look to as a touchstone for their own policies.
Family unity is a cornerstone of U.S. migration and refugee resettlement, given the importance of family values in our country and the crucial role that a united family plays in refugee protection and integration, and it is unacceptable to see families being separated due to U.S. policies. People of faith are especially concerned by the implications of the historically low refugee admissions goal and the incredibly low refugee arrivals for particular populations of concern such as families seeking to reunite, religious minorities, and children. This low level of arrivals signifies an abdication of our nation’s leadership in humanitarian protection through resettlement. Similarly, we express our deep concern for the impact of low arrivals on religious minorities, including Christians, Muslims, and others who find themselves persecuted because of their religious affiliation and are thus left without options to safely practice their faith.
We are guided by our faith to love God and love our neighbors, whoever they may be. We cannot separate the two, and seek to be welcoming of all people because loving God means loving our fellow human being. We pray that our country reflects principles of both welcome and of religious freedom, and that we remember the value of diversity. At no other time has our moral responsibility to uphold these principles been greater.
The NO BAN Act upholds principles of religious freedom and our moral obligation to welcome. It would ensure that no one is banned from our country based on religious or nationality-based discrimination. The bill seeks important changes to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by outlawing discrimination in the entry of immigrants or nonimmigrants based on religion, in addition to the protections against discrimination based on race, sex, nationality, place of birth, and place of residence already in place. The NO BAN Act also amends the provision of the INA that has granted presidents the authority to suspend or restrict the entry of non-citizens by limiting this authority to align with responsible uses of the power by prior Democratic and Republican administrations, and by putting in place key congressional notification and reporting requirements as important safeguards against any future abuses of this authority.
We urge you to cosponsor the NO BAN Act and be bold in choosing moral, just policies that welcome, regardless of faith or national origin, and provide refuge for vulnerable individuals seeking protection in accordance with our nation’s highest ideals.
Episcopal Diocese of Maine